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Practical Application: Using Vivid Language in Public Speaking

Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

Public speaking is truly an art form. But how do you become skilled in this form of communication? Read ahead to discover how to use vivid language in a speech and practice using it with a scenario.

Public Speaking

Public speaking can be a very intimidating enterprise. However, if you are confident enough in your speech, the anxiety lessens considerably.

So how do you become confident? One way is to use vivid language to ensure your speech will have the appropriate effect on your audience. Your aim is to be attention-grabbing so that your speech can actually achieve its purpose.

Using Vivid Language

Vivid language are words or phrases that stimulate mental images in the minds of the audience.

In the lesson Using Language Vividly, you learned some tips for writing a vivid speech. As a quick review, here are some of the main points from that lesson.

  • Clarity - use concrete words so that the audience understands your message.
  • Simplicity - avoid using many highbrow words. This causes confusion.
  • Imagery, similes and metaphors - these figures of speech will help your audience create mental pictures in their heads.
  • Analogy and rhetorical question - using comparisons or questions can emphasize your point and make your speech more effective.
  • Alliteration and rhythm - repeating sounds or using a pattern of short and long syllables will provide a beat, making your speech more memorable.

Application

Next, let's see how you can apply these tips. Below is the beginning of a speech lacking vivid language. Read it and then respond to the following questions.

The Joy of Fishing

Imagine it. You are on the water, a line dropped 30 feet down. The anticipation builds as you wait for the telltale sign that you've caught something. This is the just the commencement of the joy of fishing. To elucidate the reasons indicating fishing is the quintessential pastime, I will discuss the relaxation, skill and victuals it can provide.

To cure one's malaise, every person needs some perfunctory activity. Fishing is the ideal option. Most of the sport involves waiting, which is a novelty in today's world where we can get everything we want with the touch of our finger. Patience is a virtue that is often overlooked in contemporary society. Fishing is just the activity to supply the opportunity for us all to regain this virtue.

Analysis

  • What phrases seem unclear? Find a line that lacks concrete words. Rewrite it adding in some concrete words.
  • Identify two words that are highbrow and replace them with simpler ones.
  • Find an expression that is not often used in everyday conversation. Rewrite the sentence.
  • This speech lacks any similes or metaphors. Add in one of each.
  • Add in two descriptions that appeal to sight, sound, touch, smell, or taste.
  • This speech does not have any analogy or a rhetorical question. Find a spot where you can add either of these. Write down what you would add.
  • Read the speech out loud. Identify a place where alliteration can be added. Also, find at least one line that doesn't have a set rhythm. Rewrite it to have a better beat.

Rewritten Example

How did you do? Were you able to come up with ideas to add vivid language? Read the provided revision below. How does it compare to what you wrote?

The Joy of Fishing

Close your eyes. Imagine you are on the water. The salty air gently blows against your face as the boat rocks back and forth. Tranquil and soothing, like floating on a cloud. Holding your rod, you feel the telltale pull of your line. You've got one!

You fight the fish, reeling it in with gusto. You proudly hold up the firm, shiny, sharp-scaled grouper for all to see. Is there anything better than this feeling of accomplishment? This is the just the start to the joy of fishing. By the end of this speech, I will prove that through relaxation, the skill involved and the sustenance it provides, fishing is truly the best hobby.

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